Then the New York Yankees threw a little cold water on that enthusiasm, getting to Rangers starter Mike Wood for eight runs (six earned) in four-plus innings on their way to an 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Rangers, despite a season-high seven doubles, had a three-game winning streak end and have now lost four straight to the Yankees, seven dating back to last season.
"They did what they had to do, and we didn't," Washington said. "They got two-out base hits, and we didn't. We can beat the Yankees. What, we've played them four games? We haven't beaten them yet, but it ain't over yet."
Rangers catcher Gerald Laird left the game in the top of the seventh inning with some soreness in his left side. He fell hard while trying to avoid a tag on a bunt attempt in the fifth inning, and the pain worsened as the game progressed, but it's not expected to be serious.
Shortstop Michael Young also left the game in the seventh inning, but that move was made only to give him a few innings off from a game that was no longer in doubt. This one turned on two key plays in the third inning, a relay play executed by the Yankees defense to save starter Andy Pettitte and a crucial error by Rangers center fielder Jerry Hairston.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a double by Young and a two-out single by Sammy Sosa. Hank Blalock then ripped a double down the right-field line and, with two outs, third-base coach Don Wakamatsu tried to score Sosa.
But two on-the-mark throws by Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu and second baseman Robinson Cano nipped Sosa at the plate to end the inning.
Blalock had three doubles, tying a career high, but he was left on bases all three times. The Rangers were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position as Pettitte and two Yankees relievers stranded 10 baserunners.
"We got beat pretty good tonight," Blalock said. "We just have to come back and outscore them tomorrow. Pettitte just found his groove tonight."
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Doug Mientkiewicz and a double by Derek Jeter. Wood also hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, putting two on with two outs.
Hideki Matsui drove a ball to deep center field and Hairston, starting in place of Kenny Lofton, had to race back to get to the ball and got there in time. Hairston's only problem was that he slightly overran the ball, and when he reached back to make the catch, the ball ticked off the top of his glove.
"I got a good jump on it, but the last five or 10 feet, it started to come back on me," Hairston said. "Still, I should have caught it. You get a glove on it, you should catch it."
Instead, the ball rolled to the fence and two runs scored to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
"If we get out of that inning with the score tied, it might have been a different game," Washington said. "But we didn't get another run until the ninth inning."
The Yankees then scored one in the fourth inning and four more in the fifth off Wood. He left in the fifth having allowed eight runs (six earned) in four-plus innings to end the Rangers' streak of five straight quality starts from their starting pitcher. But Wood will get at least one more start on Sunday against the Angels.
"I thought he battled," Washington said. "The Yankees were just able to get those big two-out hits. But he left his heart out on the field. The Yankees are not an easy team to pitch to."